First off all, Allah bless you Kareem; you know all of the Lakers Nation are pulling for you.
So here we are nine games into the season and let’s face it: the games have been a little closer than we would probably like.
They’ve also included two absolutely abysmal games. (The Dallas Debacle and The Denver Turd Omelette).
Of course the blow outs of New Orleans and Phoenix — sans Pau and Drew for the Hornets game, and still without Pau for the Phoenix game — was a refreshing reminder of how good we really are when we’re as focused as we should be.
And even though — unless we go on some mind boggling win streak — we probably won’t be winning 72 games, we know the ultimate goal is the ring, and we have to play somebody in June right?
The only question is who…
Boston Celtics –
The Lakers Nation’s enemy number one. Damn do I, and I’m sure all of you, hate this team so much. Hatred aside however, and it’s easy to see that their ’08 Finals swag’ has returned. They’ve been blowing out the teams they should be, and have yet to play a complete stinker like The Lake Show did against The Double D’s. Their only negatives are the seven point loss to Phoenix and their home loss to the ATL.
Looking closer however, and there’s a couple of red flags that pop up, especially with the Big Three.
Pee Pee, Jesus Shuttlesworth, and The Cheap Seat Ticket’s minutes, and PPG, are all down from years past. And along with PPG, their FG% has also dropped. (Pierce is shooting above 50% right now, but you know this won’t last). True Rasheed Wallace, is contributing around 10 PPG, but his numbers are considerably lower than they’ve been in previous years.
Garnett has to be the biggest worry for Boston though. Against the ATL he played 33 minutes, and only logged nine rebounds! (Al Horford pulled down 13). Here’s a guy who’s a career 11 RPG guy, and right now he’s averaging 7.5. Yes, he’s probably still more athletic than most of the 7′ guys in the league, but that injury — a torn popliteus tendon — has clearly taken its impact on him.
So yes, the C’s look good right now, but with their Mötley Crüe of aging veterans how much will they have come June?
Cleveland LeBrick James-es –
So the other day I was watching game seven of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, and man did Shaq look slim, spry, and damn athletic (even though he was sort of a no show in that game until about the fourth quarter). Look at Shaq now, and he just looks fat, slow, and stiff. I know The LeBrons wanted a post presence — and they got one — but is it a good one?
Cleveland hasn’t quite figured out how to play with The Big Roadblock, and this may take a long time, if ever. At that point will they still be in contention for the NBA’s best record, or even first place in the East?
I’d be worried if I’m a Cleveland fan. Worried because our team has legitimate problems, worried because Mike Brown still doesn’t run an offense, and really worried that LeBrick is probably going to shake after this season (and stupidly petition to what would basically deify Michael Jordan, with that whole retire 23 idea).
Hey on the bright side if Prince James does leave Cleveland, the rest of us won’t have to see that obnoxious banner of him when we visit!
Orlando Magic (coached by famous pornographic actor Ron Jeremy) –
To be perfectly honest, the only player the Magic have that really scares me is Jameer Nelson. We still can’t guard a quick PG, and if he gets it going against us then we may be in trouble, because I don’t know if the players we have can guard him (although I do like Shannon Brown’s chances. And how much does he look like Chris Brown’s athletic, buff, non-wife beating brother? I say a lot).
I know they have “The Man Child” Dwight Howard, but he still has all of one post move (you know that little face-up, jab step, then drive to the hoop running hook or lay up). In fact, offensively, Andrew is much more skilled than Howard. Dwight is like 3x more athletic than Bynum, but Big Drew has so many more moves. Kareem (still praying for you, sir) has taught him well, while Howard has been tutored by the great Patrick Chewing. And correct me if I’m wrong, but Ewing was not really known for his arsenal of deadly post moves. I just find it interesting that the game’s best player Kobe Bryant, went to work with one of the all time best post players in Hakeem this summer, while Dwight Howard continues to mull around with Chewing.
Yes, the Magic are good, but I’m just not that worried about them.
Besides we have that, “We beat you up in the Finals last year!” swag over them.
And To Conclude –
We have to get to The Finals first and Phoenix looks good again. Yeah we spanked them, but they were on night two of a back to back, and as the Denver game proved: it’s not easy to keep the same energy and play on night two, especially when you have a cast of veterans.
I can’t deny that I’m a little worried about Denver though. They are tough and athletic, which we struggle against. They can shoot the three, which we don’t always defend the best. They now have a kid who might be the fastest PG in the league in Ty Lawson, and we ALL know that we can’t guard athletic PGs to save our lives.
Also, Carmelo took it to Ron-Ron in their first match up. I wrote earlier that the pundits were wrong about Artest, and that he looked rejuvenated. But in the Denver game, he looked a little slow, and a little old, (granted all the vets did including Kobe) and it showed in his five fouls he picked up in three quarters of play.
And you know what? Don’t count out the addition of Afflalo. The fact that Kobe didn’t score, in the second half of that game, doesn’t bother me (he didn’t play the 4th). What does bother me, is the fact that Afflalo did a great job of not letting Kobe, “do his work early.” He never let Kobe get inside the paint, and the Nuggets’ energy kept their scrambling double teams more than effective.
I’m don’t think we should get two worried though. We still don’t have Pau, and we all knew that it would be really really tough for us to match their energy, in their building, after a back to back. Let’s look forward to 2/5, when they come to L.A.!
At this point you’re probably expecting me to write about the Spurs, but let’s face it: they’re older than us, and we know that they don’t start REALLY playing until after the break.
Before we end, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, did anybody else know that Jeanie Buss, has a video segment (called Jeanie Vision) that can be watched, via Courside Connection on Lakers.com, where she interviews Phil — in their freaking car of all places — on the way to the games? Like seriously, how awesome is this? Pretty awesome because it gives us awkward exchanges like Jeanie asking:
“Phil, that was a tough loss to the Dallas Mavericks. You weren’t very happy when you came home, can you give a little bit about what your thoughts were that night?”
“Well,” Phil says very matter of factly (long long pause). I think (more pausing) that we just got lethargic and never got ourselves out of it, but…” and Phil continues with his analysis.
Why is this so great? Because it’s completely candid! Phil is so relaxed, so off guard, and so trusting of Jeanie, that he’s already sang and talked about his vegetable cart. Stay tuned to this Laker fans, it’s going to produce unintentional (yes a Bill Simmons reference) comedy gold!
Also, it’s rumored that Sasha Vujacic, is dating Maria Sharapova. Well I hope this is true. Maria’s a champion — she grunts like one too — and maybe she can help Vujacic get his swagger back, because he NEEDS something, and we need Sasha! If we win the title this year maybe we can give Khloe Odom and Maria Sharapova a ring. Lord knows that Lamar and Sasha need some guidance in their careers. So here’s a toast to Machina Sharapova, the Lakers newest couple (still not completely confirmed)!